The Oklahoma City Thunder showed no ill effects from an eight-day postseason layoff, routing the Los Angeles Lakers 119-90 in the opening game of their National Basketball Association second-round series.
The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Boston Celtics 82-81 in yesterday’s early NBA playoff game to tie their Eastern Conference series at one game apiece.
The Thunder, who completed a four-game first-round sweep of Dallas on May 5, raced to a 59-44 halftime lead against the Lakers, who two days before had fought past the Denver Nuggets in a decisive seventh game. The home team’s advantage swelled to as many as 35 points during the second half last night.
“We just tried to come out aggressive,” said Russell Westbrook, who had 27 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder. “We hadn’t played in a while and I had some good legs underneath me.”
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the runner-up to Miami’s LeBron James for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, had 25 points and James Harden finished with 17 points off the bench.
The Thunder, who had only four turnovers and shot 53 percent from the field, also will host Game 2 of the best-of-seven Western Conference series tomorrow.
The NBA playoffs continue with a pair of games tonight. The Miami Heat host the Indiana Pacers after winning Game 1 of their Eastern Conference series, and the San Antonio Spurs are home to the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening game of their series in the West.
Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points to lead the Lakers. Metta World Peace, suspended for the first six playoff games after an elbow to the head of Oklahoma City’s Harden on April 22, added 12 in his second game back since the ban ended.
Philadelphia Evens Series
In Boston, Jrue Holiday scored 18 points for Philadelphia, while Andre Iguodala had 13 and Evan Turner added 10, including a driving layup with 40.4 seconds left to put the 76ers ahead for good.
It was the first postseason win in Boston since 1982 for the 76ers, who blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 1.
“We’re growing,” the 21-year-old Holiday said. “We have a young team and I can’t preach enough on our vets for really just taking us under their wings and keeping us focused.”
The best-of-seven series now moves to Philadelphia for the next two games, including Game 3 tomorrow.
The Celtics came back to win the series opener 92-91 on May 12 and erased an eight-point deficit in the final quarter last night, taking a 72-71 lead with 2:20 left. It was one of four lead changes in the closing minutes.
Late Free Throws
After Turner’s driving scoop shot put Philadelphia back ahead 76-75, the 76ers hit six straight free throws in the final 12 seconds to withstand a pair of late 3-pointers by the Celtics, including one by Kevin Garnett at the buzzer.
“Our young guys keep growing and they’re really becoming men,” 76ers coach Doug Collins said at a news conference. “I’m so proud of them. You play a game like this, it’s worth like 10 regular-season games of experience.”
Ray Allen had 17 points to lead Boston, while Garnett finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.